Paulding County Juvenile Court is starting new programming called The Parent Project. Here, Elizabeth Zartman, chief probation officer, facilitates the first Parent Project course last fall.
Paulding County Juvenile Court is starting new programming called The Parent Project. Here, Elizabeth Zartman, chief probation officer, facilitates the first Parent Project course last fall.
PAULDING – Paulding County Juvenile Court Judge Michael A. Wehrkamp announced the launch of The Parent Project to support local parents of court-involved youth. The 10-week program supports mothers and fathers raising difficult adolescent children.

It is the only program of its kind offered in Paulding County.

The court’s chief probation officer, Elizabeth Zartman, attended a week-long training in 2016 and is a certified facilitator through The Parent Project organization. Zartman facilitated the first course between August and November 2018.

“There is often a misconception that parents of high-risk youth do not care about their children,” said Zartman. “However, the truth is that the majority of these parents love and care about their children but struggle to manage their children’s strong-willed behaviors.”

The first course, made possible by a grant from the United Way of Paulding County, was composed of six activity-based sessions and four topic-focused support groups. The second course, made possible by grant funding from Tri-County Alcohol, Drug Addition, Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board, began in late February. Judge Wehrkamp aims to continue offering The Parent Project courses twice per year.

“Family units are the foundation of our society, and by providing support to strengthen families, we can strengthen our community,” said Judge Wehrkamp. “With the launch of The Parent Project, mothers and fathers in our community now have more tools to help their children, and I’m confident lives will be changed for the better.”

At the conclusion of the first course, one parent commented, “I learned different ways to deal with my strong-willed child and was able to interact with other parents who dealt with similar issues as me.”

Another participant noted that support gained from the group helped her realize that she is not alone in facing these challenges.

The Parent Project is the largest court-mandated juvenile diversion program in the country, developed specifically for use in juvenile courts and probation. The project has served more than 500,000 families in over 30 years. It is designed to help eliminate or reduce negative behaviors such as family conflict, drug use, violence, poor school performance, running away, and teen suicide.